Resources needed:

  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Jam
  • Knife
  • Plate
  • Whiteboard
  • Pen
  • Task cards (common everyday tasks such as brushing your teeth or getting dressed)


  1. Explain to the children that they will discover the importance of imperative verbs when giving or writing instructions.
  2. Appoint a child to be the scribe. They will not have to write out all the instructions, but they will have to make a list of all the imperative verbs they hear.
  3. Show the class the ingredients and explain that you’d like them to help you make a jam sandwich.
  4. Choose one child to give you the first instruction. They may say something like, ‘Get the bread’ and, if they do, interpret this literally by grabbing the loaf and holding it to you. Hopefully, this will encourage the child to moderate their instruction and choose a more appropriate imperative verb, such as ‘take’ (two slices) or ‘remove’ (two slices from the packet).
  5. Continue in this way, interpreting the instructions each child give you in a very literal way until they are more adept at choosing the imperatives. Common ‘mistakes’ which can be literally interpreted are phrases such as ‘Put the butter/jam on the bread’ or ‘Put both slices of bread together’ or ‘Cut up the sandwich’.
  6. Once the activity is complete and the sandwich is successfully made, give each pair of children the task cards and ask them to both create a set of instructions to complete that particular task.
  7. Children should then swap their instructions with another child and ‘mark’ each other’s by pointing out any imperative verbs which may lead to ambiguity in the instructions.


Further Activities:

Ask the children to make up a crazy recipe using imperative verbs – the recipe can be for anything they like but should contain lots of clear imperatives.

Ask everyone to bring an instruction manual or recipe book from home. Photocopy some of the pages and ask the children to ring all the imperative verbs they can find. Use the results to create an imperative verb wall.



Curriculum Areas covered:


(Y2) Pupils should learn how to use:

  • Sentences with different forms: statement, question, exclamation, command

(Y5/6) Pupils should be taught to:

draft and write by:

  • Selecting appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning

evaluate and edit by:

  • Assessing the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing § proposing changes to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to enhance effects and clarify meaning